Ministers refuse to call in Royal High revamp bids

The former Royal High School building.
The former Royal High School building.
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Plans to turn the old Royal High School (RHS) into a luxury hotel will not be called in by the Scottish Government, it has emerged.

Duddingston House Properties Ltd and Urbanist Hotels Ltd wanted ministers to decide on rejected proposals for a 147-bedroom hotel at the Calton Hill site, blueprints for a scaled down version of the building and plans for a rival scheme which would see the Royal High become the new home for St Mary’s Music School.

But in a letter addressed to planning lawyer Ann Faulds, who is acting for the developers, Lyndsey Murray, of the Scottish Government’s local government and communities directorate, said: “Ministers are satisfied that the current applications are for the City of Edinburgh Council, as planning authority, to deal with and there is no reason for ministers to become involved at this time.”

Duddingston House and Urbanist are using the same legal team - advocate Gordon Steele QC and Ms Faulds - which acted for US president Donald Trump when he succeeded in getting the plans for his controversial golf course in Aberdeenshire called in.

In a previous letter to the government, the developers said: “Given the national importance of the RHS building and the need to secure its future, sustainable beneficial use, all three proposals should be properly scrutinised to ensure that a suitable and viable development is delivered as soon as possible.”

The city council has already pointed out the revised hotel application, with 20 fewer bedrooms, was only lodged on February 21 and that there has been no time for public consultation or proper assessment.

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